Earthquakes kill three in part of Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia : A series of powerful earthquakes killed at least three people in eastern Indonesia today, cutting power lines and badly damaging buildings. A 7.6-magnitude quake struck at 4:43 a.m. local time about 85 miles from Manokwari, Papua, at a depth of 22 miles, the U.S. Geological Agency said. It was followed by a strong 7.5 aftershock. Three bodies were found, including that of a 10-year-old girl, a hospital director said. Nineteen other patients were treated for injuries. Papua police chief Maj. Gen. Bagus Ekodanto said he got reports that a hotel and rice warehouse had been destroyed.


Opposition leader Mills wins Ghana presidency

ACCRA, Ghana : Opposition leader John Atta Mills was declared Ghana's next president yesterday. The country is one of the few in Africa to successfully transfer power twice from one legitimately elected leader to another, evidence that Ghana's democracy has matured after an era of coups and dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s. But tensions still ran high in the closest vote in Ghana's history, and some feared that violence could erupt. Ghana's ruling party candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, had threatened to reject the results but conceded peacefully.


Senior Taliban official arrested in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan : Pakistani authorities arrested a ranking figure in Afghanistan's Taliban movement after receiving a tip that he had crossed over into Pakistan, officials said yesterday. Ustad Yasar, a senior aide to Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, had been freed by Afghan officials in 2007 in a much-criticized prisoner exchange. Pakistani officials said Yasar was picked up in Peshawar, a growing center of the Islamist insurgency on the Pakistan side of the border.

Blagojevich says Reid has conflict of interest

CHICAGO : Illinois' governor said through his spokesman yesterday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is guilty of a conflict of interest in that Reid telephoned him in early December to discuss the seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. Lucio Guerrero, spokesman for Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, said he didn't know firsthand which candidates the Nevada Democrat supported during the call, but he said that Reid's candidates did not include former Illinois attorney general Roland Burris, whom the governor picked for Obama's seat. Senate leaders have vowed to oppose the appointment.

Factions scramble for power in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia : Islamic insurgents appeared to be scrambling for power yesterday, taking over several police stations in the capital as Ethiopian troops who have been propping up the government began to pull out, witnesses said. Many fear the pullout and last month's resignation of Somalia's president will cause militant groups to fight among themselves, bringing even more chaos to this beleaguered nation. The insurgent group al-Shabab has taken over most of Somalia.